Dave Lawrence’s German Sikhs

Check out this unusual conversion, with historical background and rules information from Warlord Supremo John Stallard:

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The Second World War by definition encompassed the globe with the tide of battle ebbing and flowing, leading to some very strange alliances and contingencies. Early victories by Italian and German troops in North Africa granted them large numbers of Commonwealth prisoners who were put into POW camps  and sorted through for evaluation.

Chandra Bose was a fiery Indian Nationalist who dreamed of a free India, with no British rule. He petitioned  both Germany and Japan to give him access to the captured Indian troops in the hope that he could raise a large army and help free his country from British rule. Hitler was very sceptical of the Indian troops’ fighting ability, but did give the go ahead to enlist at least 3,500 Indian troops into the Wehrmacht, making a very exotic and interesting unit.

They at first formed the 950th regiment and found the hard German training routines not to their taste, so the drills were modified back to regular British army drill, which was  more relaxed, and delivered in a language they could understand. Two thirds of the men were Moslem, and the rest Hindu, wearing German army uniform with distinctive Indian iconography of  a leaping tiger  in a green white and red shield. A turban was usually worn, though pictures of the Indian legion are to be found in classic helmets and  a strange turban-forage cap in Africa Corps material.

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The unit later became the 950 Panzer grenadier regiment before being incorporated in the 13th SS mountain division. They served at El Alamein where they mutinied, some being shot for desertion. They later served in Holland and later on Rommel’s Atlantic Wall. They fought a long retreat through France in a bid to  reach Switzerland, fighting often with the FFI. Most were captured by regular French and American forces who turned them over to the British, who seemed to have been very forgiving on the whole. The French shot some of the Indians as reprisals for bad behaviour on the retreat.

A lot of Indians also fought against the British in the Far East, as allies of the Japanese in the belief that the pan-Asian co-prosperity plan that the Japanese were offering might bring about a better deal for India. Captured rogue Indian troops in Burma got little sympathy from still loyal Indian troops.

Chandra Bose never saw his dream of independance come true, he died in a plane crash in the Far East in August 1945.

The Indians were equipped with standard German kit, having  3 battalions of 4 companies each, a company of machine gunners, a unit of tank destroyers, a unit of engineers and  81 vehicles  and 700 horses.

Some were trained to parachute and were sent into Iran to stir up rebellion in India – brave fellows indeed…

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How do they fight on the table top?

They seem to have been a mixed bag, some were very keen to fight for a free India, whilst others no doubt preferred 3 meals a day and a change to the crushing boredom of the POW camp. In Bolt Action I suggest you use the Untried rule, so when they first come under fire you test their mettle – they could be shirkers, reliable allies, or even fierce fanatics knowing that to be captured meant a rough time of it for them!

Warlord have a metal sprue of turbaned heads which is ideal for these troops, while the bodies are from the German Infantry boxed set.

What  are you waiting for?”Azad Hind!” Free India!!